A craft beer, please!
Hamburg's new brewers
Hamburg has revitalised its mediaeval craft beer scene. Styles and flavours such as acidic Berliner Weiße, fruity-hoppy India Pale Ale or chocolatey-creamy stout are back, all over town. We present the best breweries, taprooms and ideas – and a brand-new Hamburg beer.
Think Hamburg today, think port, Alster and Elbphilharmonie. But in the Middle Ages the Hanseatic city was still home to hundreds of breweries. Back then, almost every second job was directly or indirectly associated with beer. Industrialisation shrank the number to a handful of large breweries – and variety shrank with it. Fortunately, however, the craft beer trend has now arrived in Hamburg.
Craft beer scene drops anchor in Hamburg
At the end of the 1970s, in despair at the monotonous taste of the well-known beer brands as advertised on TV, home brewers in the USA revived the production of beer made to traditional recipes in their own kitchens – with high-quality ingredients and, above all, plenty of aroma hops and craft processes. A totally positive development, which showed the northerners that there was more to life than the popular pils. Today's scene is livelier than ever before.
One Saturday last July, 250 passionate craft beer aficionados met at what is now the “Landgang Brauerei” brewery to vote on the latest drop made in Hamburg. In front of the guests, five still very fresh and immature beers were lined up, differing only by the type of hops they contained: some tasted “lemony” (Lemondrop) or of “tropical fruit, with a touch of red berries” (Mosaic). No easy decision, even for the practised palate.
The sun was shining, the mood exuberant and – what most of those present would never have guessed – a piece of beer history was about to be written. That day witnessed the selection of the beer that would represent Hamburg all over the world. The Hamburg beer that won in July is now known as “Lütte Höög”. In the Hamburg dialect, it means something like “Small Pleasure”. The breweries Landgang and Elbpaul, the wholesaler and event organiser Craft Beer Market and the municipal initiative Hamburg on Tour collaborated on its development. A German pils was created using the Lemondrop and Hallertauer Magnum hop varieties.
“We were very happy with the outcome of the vote. The Lemondrop hop is still a relatively new aroma hop, and was only being used in a small number of other beers in Germany – so it's all the more exciting to be flavouring such a special beer with this hop now. It's that mixture of citrus and herby notes that make the beer very refreshing and delicious,” says Landgang's head brewer Sascha Bruns. The first testers praised it as fresh and pleasant, not too bitter. It’ an equally good match with the down-to-earth local fish sandwich or sophisticated sushi – that makes it a real Hamburg beer.
European première in London
Lütte Höög celebrated its première at the end of October 2017 in London, capital of the European craft beer movement. Though it can truly be said there's no lack of excellent beers in the British metropolis, which boasts more than 50 micro-breweries, it welcomed the Hamburg craft beer enthusiastically. Henceforth Lütte Höög will stand as the liquid flagship of the City of Hamburg and be served in a number of Hamburg taprooms – if you don't want to wait till after work or the weekend, order it online at luette-hoeoeg.de – cheers!
Besides “Lütte Höög”, there are quite a few other craft beers, taprooms and shops to be discovered in Hamburg. This is hamburg ahoi's recommended Craft Beer Route through the city:
Where to satisfy your thirst for craft beer in Hamburg